Picking up your new dog can be very exciting but there are a few rules to follow to make the transition easier for you and your dog.
1. Stay calm.
This is a very exciting time for you and the dog but it is important to contain your excitement at this stage. Have a matter of fact attitude to keep it as normal as possible for the dog. This is a very overwhelming experience for a dog coming out of a shelter so the less you talk to and touch the dog the calmer the whole thing will be for her. This applies throughout the rest of the process.
2. Long walk.
Before the dog is introduced to the house take her for a long walk around your neighbourhood. This will drain some excess energy and give her an opportunity to explore her new environment. It also gives the dog a sense of having travelled with you to their new home.
3. Introduce your home.
On arriving home instead of just throwing the door open and letting the dog run in and claim it for her own, have her wait calmly while you open the door. Go through the door yourself and then invite the dog in, leaving the lead on. With the lead still on take the dog into the garden and let them explore encourage any toileting with calm praise.
4. Feeding area.
Take your dog to where it will be eating and offer a drink and some food in her bowl. Not an entire meal yet, remember she is still on lead and will be a bit overwhelmed.
5. Sleeping area.
Take her to where you want her to sleep whether this be a crate or a cushion in the corner of the living room as long as it is out of the general flow of traffic so the dog can rest undisturbed. This is where you can take the lead off and leave the dog to rest. As the dog has come from a confined kennel it can be useful at the start to restrict their access to a couple of rooms in the house until they have learned to relax in these areas.
6. Let the dog come to you.
This can be the hardest step but it is important that you let the dog come to you. As already stated your dog will be overwhelmed and trying too hard to make friends and constantly invading their personal space adds to this. Any attention you give the dog raises their excitement levels which makes it harder for them to behave appropriately. It is ok to acknowledge the dog when she comes to you with a calm word or a gentle touch.
The decision to get a dog is as important as where you choose to live, whether to have children, or to get married. Don’t get a dog because it is cute or fashionable, or you feel sorry for it. If a dog is returned to the shelter it gets a black mark against it and eventually becomes unadoptable
Some things to consider when making your choice
1. Your own energy and the dog’s energy.
Are you the kind of person who gets up with the sun to go to the gym before hiking over the hills or do you require a slower start and a few more cups of coffee to get you going? Have an honest appraisal of your energy levels, lifestyle and your reasons for having a dog, and is this the same for the whole family? When looking at dogs consider the breed and age of the dog and whether this will be compatible with your lifestyle. If you like long walks over the hills then you will want a dog that can keep up so a younger more agile breed would be better suited. For quieter nights in and shorter strolls maybe an older dog would be a better choice for you.
2. Dogs in cages.
When you visit a shelter to view dogs bear in mind that their behaviour will not be representative of their true personality. When viewing the dogs remain calm and avoid eye contact.
3. Ask questions.
Ask questions of the staff at the shelter will know about the animals in their care so ask them how the dog behaves with them on walks, in the kennel, around food, around other dogs and strangers. The shelter want their animals to be placed in the right homes so they will answer your questions honestly.
4. Take the dog for a walk.
Although they will be excited to be out it is an opportunity to see the dog out of the kennel environment and how it reacts to you, the environment and other dogs and people.
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